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Special project serves up job opportunities

A café in Cadillac is making a difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities and giving them a chance to work.

The After 26 Depot café in Cadillac is making a difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities and giving them a chance to work.

On Monday, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley stopped by to show his support for the project that's making a difference.

Today people got together at the depot to celebrate more than 65-thousand dollars being given to a good cause.

"Usually I work four days, three days, maybe even two, but this week, I'm working five days,â?? said Project Worker Sean Carter.

The café opened its doors last year, and it's a special place hiring 21 people with special needs.

"I like the dishwashing better because I can do work faster in the kitchen by doing dishes and stuff like that,â?? said Carter. â??I was a dishwasher for four years."

The After 26 Depot project hasn't just relied on the effort of workers like Sean to be successful. Theyâ??ve also had generous donations.

On Monday, the After 26 Board invited some of it's biggest benefactors including the Cadillac Chamber and DTE Energy for a private party.

Those two organizations alone have donated more than 65,000 dollars to make this a reality.

"This gift will help us to sustain our mission, which is to employ people with developmental disabillites,â?? said After 26 Project Board Member Andrew MacDonald. â??This job means so much to them. It's not about the pay, it's about self-worth, self-dignity, because without a place like this, the opportunities are so few and far for them."

The depot is a place of opportunity. It's a chance for workers to get their foot-in-the-door, learn some real world skills and gain a real sense of self-worth, which are skills that could lead to a more fulfilling life according to one of today's honored guests.

"People that have developmental disabilities have a lot to offer,â?? said Lt. Governor Brian Calley. â??They have talents. They have gifts that often our community never has the opportunity to experience."

"I got the job here and I'm pretty proud,â?? said Carter.

Just like its workers, the depot cafe has come a long way, but they hope their journey is far from over.

There are plans to hire more employees next year and hope that what they have created in Cadillac inspires other communities to do the same.

The depot is normally closed on Mondays, but they opened their doors just for this special event.

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